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Maryland Professors at the Polls: A Pilot Project Encouraging Faculty (and Students) to Serve as Poll Workers in the 2006 Elections
Unformatted Document Text:  Democracy, The League of Women Voters, and the Maryland State Board of Elections. Meeting participants discussed a variety of options as to how to proceed with the Maryland Professors at the Polls initiative. No clear consensus existed as to whether or not great numbers of faculty would choose to participate in the program given the constraints of serving as an election judge. Jennifer Collins-Foley of the Pollworker Institute outlined some of these problems which included: communication problems with election officials, inflexibility of assignment, non-receptiveness to feedback, poor training, long hours, and poor pay. Many of these problems were confirmed in a questionnaire administered to volunteers in the project after their participation and will likely continue to be the main barriers to participation by faculty. Following the Washington meeting the program directors continued to focus on recruitment with AAUP staff. First, faculty at the original meeting were encouraged to speak with faculty and other interested groups on campus about what they learned. Second, directors focused on attracting the attention of the state’s political leadership, state and local media to publicize the importance of and need for poll workers. Third, working through the original group that attended the earlier meeting in Washington, program directors encouraged group members to recruit colleagues at Maryland schools to serve as election judges. The program directors also coordinated two high profile events in Annapolis during the legislative session. The first occurred at the opening of the General Assembly session at the State House in Annapolis on January 19, 2006. St. Mary’s College President Maggie O’Brien, AAUP General Secretary Roger Bowen, and the co-directors 8

Authors: Messitte, Zach. and Cain, Michael.
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Democracy, The League of Women Voters, and the Maryland State Board of Elections.
Meeting participants discussed a variety of options as to how to proceed with the
Maryland Professors at the Polls initiative. No clear consensus existed as to whether or
not great numbers of faculty would choose to participate in the program given the
constraints of serving as an election judge. Jennifer Collins-Foley of the Pollworker
Institute outlined some of these problems which included: communication problems with
election officials, inflexibility of assignment, non-receptiveness to feedback, poor
training, long hours, and poor pay. Many of these problems were confirmed in a
questionnaire administered to volunteers in the project after their participation and will
likely continue to be the main barriers to participation by faculty.
Following the Washington meeting the program directors continued to focus on
recruitment with AAUP staff. First, faculty at the original meeting were encouraged to
speak with faculty and other interested groups on campus about what they learned.
Second, directors focused on attracting the attention of the state’s political leadership,
state and local media to publicize the importance of and need for poll workers. Third,
working through the original group that attended the earlier meeting in Washington,
program directors encouraged group members to recruit colleagues at Maryland schools
to serve as election judges.
The program directors also coordinated two high profile events in Annapolis
during the legislative session. The first occurred at the opening of the General Assembly
session at the State House in Annapolis on January 19, 2006. St. Mary’s College
President Maggie O’Brien, AAUP General Secretary Roger Bowen, and the co-directors
8


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